ROTEL RB-985 THX Amplifiers

RB-985 THX

5 Channel Power Amplifier - 100 Watts (1995-1998)

User Reviews (44)

Showing 1-10 of 44  
Francois   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 09, 2009]

Solid sound, Bought it new in 98, and still delivers as out of the box. Slient and tight, I even recently bought new Energy RC70 floorstanding speakers. I can't spend enough time just listening to music now, I would leave it open 15 hours a day if I could, just to hear it. Jump on it if you can find a used one. Its a keeper!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
lbrize   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 25, 2009]
Strength:

Great Power, Looks Very Good, Sound is the best multi-channel amp I've heard.
Sounds like the award winning RB980BX, except in a multi-channel amp!

Weakness:

Not the best for 2 channel, even among other Rotel gear. The little RB951 sounds so much sweeter and more natural for a stereo setup.

Surprisingly, I was one of the few that wasn't absolutely crazy about the RB980BX. Since this amp sounds similar, I don't find it to be the best amp for music listening.

This amplifier has great power output. I've never ran out of power, at all.
The reviews, both professional and enthusiast, have raved about this amp's abilities and sound characteristics.

My thoughts are a bit different. I think for the money, perhaps, this amp is amazing, combining power and sound quality. However, if you are looking for a smaller 2-channel amp, for less money, the Rotel RB951 is actually a much better sounding amp. The laid back, sweet sound, so near to that Hi Fi sound, is much more apparent in the 951 than the 985 MkII. I advise the smaller amp for a stereo setup.

Now, for a five channel, the bigger Rotel, being 5 channels, THX certified, and the boost in power it offers, makes it a fine choice for the money. I personally use the 985 and the 951, to give a 7.1 setup.

NOTE: If you are a Rotel fan, please note that I also owned the RB980BX, bought it new, and the 985MkII has a very similar sound, except X5.

Similar Products Used: Adcom, NAD, Rotel RB980BX
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
peterh   AudioPhile [Apr 27, 2007]
Strength:

Headroom, very good detail resolution, excellent stereo imaging. Headroom. Handles difficult speakers with ease. Headroom. Fast, detail-rich, and analytical yet still very musical. Remains amazingly cool. And did I say headroom? No? OK. Headroom.

Weakness:

maybe a bit more 'warm' and veiled than the NAD 2600 when played at really low (wife asleep) levels. But at this price point, that IS nitpicking.

This is a gem at the price - if you want to get better than this, you're paying a huge premium. The RB985 has buckets of headroom, resolves detail as I have never heard in this price range, has a ditto soundstage, and remains calm and collected even when played very very loud.

Mine is fed by a Rotel RSP966 preamp/processor, and it feeds 2 Infinity Alpha 50's at the fron, an Infinity Beta 250 center speaker, and two B&W DM110's at the rear. With movies that try to shake the earth, the system is assisted by a Rel Strata II sub.

I wanted this amplifier because I wanted to get believable Dolby Surround without sacrificing stereo music reproduction quality. The RB985 does both with ease.

Customer Service

Not needed, but expected to be well above par.

Similar Products Used: NAD2600, Reference Audio RA230
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
peter   AudioPhile [Apr 27, 2007]
Strength:

Headroom, speed, detail resolution. Headroom. Clean and musical. And did I say headroom? No? OK. Headroom.

Weakness:

At loooow listening levels, it sounds a bit more 'veiled' than the NAD 2600 that preceded it, but that is nitpicking.

Classic Rotel stuff. Buckets of headroom, excellent stereo imaging, believable surround capabilities Kind of Blue from Miles Davis on surround SACD actually sounds good, and the aplifier plays the movie Gladiator with ablomp.
Even when played really loud (King Crimson's song B'BOOM, which is basically a Bill Bruford/Pat Mastellotto drum duo, at a realistic level), it still resolves beautifully, doesn't get harsh or fall apart.

I've got the older version (with the plain rather than ribbed front, and with a 5x100 Watt specification). I mainly bought this amplifier for its stereo capabilities - surround is an accessory to me (my wife watches more movies than I do), so while I was willing to accommodate surroud, I didn't want my music to suffer from it.
It's fed from a Rotel RSP966 preamp/processor, and it drives Infinity Alpha 50's (front), an Apha 250 center speaker, and B&W DM110 (surround). For surround, this set is supported with a REL Strata II.

Customer Service

Not needed, but expected to be well above par.

Similar Products Used: NAD2600
Reference Audio RA230
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
S3   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 03, 2004]
Strength:

quiet, smooth, robust, and very fast. never gets hot!

Weakness:

may sound alittle thin with 3way speakers low efficency speakers.

I've had this amp for almost 2yrs now, and let me tell you, this baby sounds awesome! Very smooth, robust, quiet, and fast, very fast. I have the B&W 603s3, lcr6s2, and 601s2 setup, sounds incredible, like a perfect match. Not only does it play 2ch well, this amp really shines in multichannel either music/movies doesn't matter. Example: The soundtrack to Michel Camilo's Live At The Bluenote on SACD sounds incredilble! just a trio but the dynamic scale is awesome. You can clearly hear everynote played by each musician and feel the impact Michel Camilo expresses. The Rotel RMB 985 not only delivers but delivers a fast robust sound without a sign of fatigue. Definitely a classic rotel amp.

Similar Products Used: nad, H/K, denon, marantz, adcom, and B&K
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Music_Maestro   AudioPhile [Apr 13, 2003]
Strength:

THIS AMP DRIVES MY NHT VT2'S EFFORTLESSLY... NICE CLEAN TIGHT POWERFUL SOUND.... BUILT TO LAST A LIFE TIME,IF IT IS NOT ABUSED!

Weakness:

NO VOLUME CONTROL.... NOT BRIDGEABLE....BINDING POST ARE TOO CLOSE TOGETHER

MAN, I'VE HAD THIS AMP SINCE 1996. I'VE HAD SEVERAL PREAMPS, AND RECIEVERS FOR IT THOUGH..... I REFUSE TO GET RID OF IT..... THIS BAD BOY IS KICK ASS..... IT IN MY OPINION IS A CLASSIC.... I'M ABOUT TO BUY ANOTHER PREAMP.... AND I AM NOT LETTER THIS AMP GO..... I THOUGHT ABOUT IT ONCE AND CHANGED MY MIND....

Similar Products Used: THIS IS THE ONLY HOME THEATER AMP THAT I HAVE EVER OWNED (1996) OTHER THAN MY PRO AUDIO GEAR
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 15, 2000]
Strength:

Build quality and power on a budget.

Weakness:

A tad brite on *SOME* cds.

I'll be honest. My original intent was to get either the ATI 1505 or the Outlaw 750. But, no matter how I worked it, I just couldn't fit them into my existing rack space- bummer.

So, I looked around locally, and found the Rotel (about 2 inches shorter). Installed it as the outboard amp to a Yamaha 2092 reciever, with PSB Stratus line speakers. Being somewhat new to "high-end" audio, I was amazed by the dramatic improvement in the sound. Clean, precise, and with a sense of authority that the reciever couldn't even touch. Solid, room thumping, bass. Detail that wasn't even audible before. Very impressive. (It even looks cool.)

The only downside I've encountered is a certain briteness on some (not all) cds. But since I'm primarily an HT man anyway, I can live with it.

Now, I'm not foolish enough to believe that I gave up nothing in selecting the Rotel (at 1110x5) over the Outlaw (165x5) or the ATI (150x5), but I can honestly say that I am pleased with the results I've gotten with the Rotel.

If you are a "champagne on a beer budget" kind of person, the Rotel 985 is definitely worthy of consideration.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Vincent Chen   Audiophile [Mar 11, 2000]
Strength:

great build for the price,great sound out of the box. Very reasonable price for the performance. About a $1000.00.

Weakness:

Didn't get on sooner.

Incredible is how I can sum up the tremendous value the 985 gives the Home Theatre fan and the audiophile too. Dynamic,terrific signal to noise,decent to good imaging. Very engaging,non fatiguing sound. Inside are the usual suspects that make a Rotel. BHC slit foil capacitors,Vishay low tolerance resistors etc,and a beefy chassis. Heat sinks abound on this one. The whole front panel is a heat sink as the left and right sides under the cover. A 1.2 KVA torodial tranformer with 20 output devices rated at 15 amperes,and 130 watts. Complete with beefy binding posts and gold plated RCA connectors. No balanced XLR as in the other Rotel amps though. All the high end goodies without the high end price. I think anyone looking at the Parasound,ATI,or OUTLAW amp still needs to give the RB-985 mk2 a try. Cheaper than the Parasound,and OUTLAW too.
I was checking out these and the Marantz,Sherwood Newcastle and the Adcom 7400. I just couldn't pass up such a great buy. Once again Rotel has winner in my living room,and for my buddies looking for an amp for thier system,the 985 is first one I'll reccomend they try.
System compliment:
Harman Kardon AVR-80 mk2-running pre-out mode only.
Rotel RDV-985 DVD/CD player
Mitsubishi HS-U71 VHS
B & W 603 S2 front channels
B & W CC6 S2 center channel
KEF C80 for surround channels
HSU 12" passive subwoofer
NAD 2400 amplifier driving the HSU Bridged mode
-------------------------
other sources:
Otari MX5050b Mk2 2 track open reel
Nakamichi OMS-5 CD player
NAD 502 cd player
Sony DTC-A6 dat machine
Tandberg TCD-3014
Alesis XT-20 ADAT
Summary: any home theatre buff and audiophile who just can't open a second mortgage for the power amplifier,is best served with the Rotel RB-985 mk2. One for sure could do allot worse elsewhere and more importantly,pay more.
V.C.

Similar Products Used: Nad 2400,Mackie 1400i,
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bill Braunig   Audiophile [Nov 19, 2000]
Strength:

Smooth clean power. I have not found a DVD yet to tax this amp. It handles the most demanding action scenes.

Weakness:

On my honor, none at all. This amp is perfect!

This is a follow up to my review of about 6 months ago. This amp is only getting better with time. Now that I have broken this baby in, I am sure it has more power than the rated 110 wpc. This amp has me upgrading everything!! I feel like I've started a journey that will never end. Everything sounds great with amp. The sound stage is amazing! Check out the helicopter scene in the "Matrix" the sound in unbelieveable! Beg, borrow or steal to get one of these babies, you will not be sorry!

System:

Rotel MkII power amp
Rotel pre-amp, 5.1, DTS processer
Energy C-2's Front Speakers
Energy AC-300 Center Channel Speaker
B&W DM302 surround speakers
MTX PSW101B 12" 100 watt powered subwoofer
Pioneer DV-525 DVD player
Yamaha CDC-505 CD player (using as transport only)

Similar Products Used: For this price point, nothing, and I mean nothing comes close.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Andrew   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 13, 2000]
Strength:

Reasonably good dynamics, reasonably neutral

Weakness:

Build quality doesn't seem up to par with normal Rotel

This rewview is for the 100 watt version, not the Mk II

First off let me disclaim that this review may or may not be fair to the 985 series in general because I may have just bought a lemon used. I was in the market for a decent 5 channel amp and in general I LOVE Rotel stuff. Although after my experiences with this amp I'm a little more cautious. This amp I bought used sounded good on the whole but there was one significant problem, a ground noise hum. I've had it into the local Rotel shop twice now and they haven't been able to fix it yet. The tech showed me on the circuit board where someone has modified it and added some solder in places. He said it looked like a factory modification but I personally think it could have been in for service somewhere else. I suspect it was a modification in relation to a grounding problem since it's right at where the PCB attaches to the chassis. The local tech said that Rotel could have been in a hurry to get this amp out and not designed it with good enoguh grounding and then tried to fix it afterwards. In any event when I looked at the solder job it looked fairly shoddy. Whether Rotel did it or someone else is a mystery. I don't want to make this review scare you off from buying this amp on the used market. I do want to however make sure you check out this amp thoroughly before buying. I know that's true for any used item but that can be hard to do when you buy long distance like I did. The guy stuck me with a lemon. Well anyway even if it had been perfect otherwise I still don't feel this amp's build quality is up to Rotel's otherwise high standards. The binding posts suck in particular. They are technically 3 or 4 way binding posts (won't accomodate bare wire) but they seem really cheap and flimsy. They use thin screws which could easily break if it was unscrewed and had any sideways pressure put on it. They're not gold plated either. Am I being pickey? Perhaps .. do binding posts make or break an amp? Of course not .. but it does suggest Rotel cut some corners there and it's unexcustable considering decent gold plated 5 way binding posts like the use on their 980 cost about $5 at Radio Shack. My overall impression is that the sound quality is reasonably good (assuming you don't have any ground prblems). If you can get this unit in the $400 range then it might be a good enough bargain. However, as soon as the tech fixes my amp I plan to sell it. For the same money I can get a 100x5 B&K or AMC and I'd have more confidence. If you love Rotel I'd recommend you spend a little extra and get the Mk II version of this amp. But again maybe I just got unlucky and I"m giving this amp a bad rap but after closely looking at the physcial build quality inside and out I just don't feel the build quality is up to par. My RB 980 2 channel amp seemed much more solid both in sound and build qaulity.

Similar Products Used: Rotel RB 980, AMC 2100, Carver AV-405
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 44  

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